Thursday, October 7, 2010

In My Footsteps: Trip 74: Abington, Mass.

In My Footsteps
Christopher Setterlund

Trip 74:  Abington, Mass.
August 26, 2010

            When I do these travel trips I tend to lean toward finding places in each town that are either of historical significance or natural significance.  In Abington I was actually able to find a spot that was both.  Although I did find several other places that caught my attention during my time in this small town twenty miles southeast of Boston, it was Island Grove Park that drew me in like few other places can.
Memorial Bridge entrance to Island Grove Park.
            Considered to be the ‘Crown Jewel of Abington,’ Island Grove Park is an eleven acre area very unique in its appearance as well as its origin story.  It is unique in appearance due to the fact that it is surrounded on three sides by the Island Grove Pond.  You can walk into the park on land if you choose to park on Park Avenue to the east; however you get a much different feel as you enter from the west.  It is on this side, through the Wilson Place entrance that the Memorial Bridge must be crossed, over the water, to allow you into the park. 
            Walking the bridge gives you a magnificent view of the surrounding pond and homes as well as the ducks which like to sit and wait to be fed along the shore.  Towering before you as you step off of the concrete and into the dirt is a large stone archway complete with an eagle seated on top.  This makes you feel as though you are entering a more special, sacred area, and in many ways you are.
The archway at Island Grove Park.
            The grounds of Island Grove Park are more sacred due to the fact that it was here from 1846 to 1865 that secret meetings of abolitionists were held.  There is a stone marker alluding to this fact.  Famed abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison spoke to followers near the spot where the marker is laid.  There is a powerful quote from Garrison at the bottom of the marker which reads: “I am in earnest.  I will not equivocate.  I will not excuse.  I will not retreat a single inch – And I will be heard.”
            This was especially compelling to me since I had no idea that such an important part of American history had gone on in this place.  To me when I arrived it was simply a neat park almost totally surrounded by water, but I left feeling like I had stood where great men and women had once decided to change the path of American history.  That fact made Island Grove Park mean a whole lot more to me.
            The town was named by Governor Joseph Dudley in 1706 for Abington, England due to the fact that Anne Venables Bertie who was the Countess of Abington had helped him to gain the governorship.  Abington also has a very unique incident in its history, that being a riot in 1893 between the town’s police and workers from the New York, New Haven, & Hartford Railroad. 
The former Abington Railroad Station, now a restaurant.
            The problem was the fact that the town wanted the right to build a streetcar line which would cross over the railroad tracks.  After a train had collided with a streetcar in Brockton shortly before the superintendent of the previously mentioned railroad company sent workers down to tear up the section of streetcar track which crossed the railroad track.  The scuffle escalated between the workers and local police who were then assisted by store owners.  Fists and rocks, shovels and picks were used.  In the end there was a lawsuit in which five railroad workers ended up in jail.  As a peace offering Abington had a new railroad station built in the style of H.H. Richardson whose work has been mentioned previously in my Easton and Fairhaven articles.  I was not able to find any sort of markers as to where this riot took place, but the railroad station still stands although it is now a restaurant and bar.
            After a trip through the center of town I ended my time in Abington at the Ames Nowell State Park.  The park is more than 700 acres in size and is filled with great walking trails.  There is also a pavilion perfect for outdoor activities and get togethers.  I know of the pavilion because as I was walking one of the paths a pair of ladies asked me if I knew where it was for a dog show they were planning.  We went on a quest to find it and did so successfully.  I do not know how the dog show ended up going for them though.
The dam and bridge at Ames Pond.
            My favorite part of Ames Nowell Park that I saw was Ames Pond.  As I walked along its shore I found a cool painting of the pond as a map, it was under plexi-glass but still was easy to decipher.  There was a boy in the painting fishing along the shore and ironically there were three teenagers doing the same on a small dock.  Further along the southern shore there is a dam which allows water to flow into a creek.  There is a great vantage point when you stand on the wooden bridge which crosses over the dam.  I enjoyed simply listening to the sound of the rushing water as it passed underneath me.  There is also a twenty-foot high boulder along the shore which makes for some great photos if you care to climb it.  It is an easy climb so it should be taken advantage of.
            I cannot stress enough how amazing it was to stand where the great abolitionists once stood at Island Grove Park.  If you see nothing else you need to make it a point to cross the Memorial Bridge and enjoy the beauty and bask in the rich history which this unique park has to offer.  Abington is so much more than just the town which holds Island Grove Park, but that one spot is so powerful to me that I find it difficult to put my mind on anything else.  It is one of my favorite spots I have been thus far.  Have fun and happy traveling!

To see a short video of Island Grove Park in Abington click on this link: Island Grove Park - Abington, Ma. - YouTube

     My first book, In My Footsteps: A Cape Cod Travel Guide, is now available at,, and, soon to be in stores everywhere!  Follow me on Twitter!

DirectionsIsland Grove Park:  From Rt. 3 take Exit 13 for Rt. 53.  Turn right at Rt. 53, turn left at Rt. 123, follow it 4 miles and turn right at Union St.  Take 3rd left at North Ave., take slight left at Birch St., continue onto Adams St., continue onto Washington St.  Turn left at Wilson Place, this is the Memorial Bridge entrance.
            Ames Nowell State Park:  From Rt. 3 take Exit 13 for Rt. 53.  Turn right at Rt. 53, turn left at Rt. 123, follow it 4 miles and turn right at Union St.  Take 3rd left at North Ave., continue onto Randolph St., turn left at Lincoln St., turn left at Hancock St.  Take 3rd right onto Presidential Dr., turn right at Linwood St.  Take your 1st left and then a quick right.

            Friends of Island
            Abington - Abington Riot

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